NVIDIA nForce 680i LT SLI
Nvidia's nForce 680i LT SLI chipset is a terrific high-end platform with a reasonable price-tag, plain and simple. As Nvidia already produces two sought after chipset products at the high and mid-levels of the market (the 680i SLI and 650i SLI), it didn't even occur many folks that a trimmed down 680i SLI could fit in the middle. However, the 680i LT SLI manages to slip in-between these two products nicely.
The 680i LT SLI isn't revolutionary - everything we're seeing here today are things which we've already seen with the full-fledged 680i SLI chipset. However, we're happy to see Nvidia bringing full speed PCI Express 16 x 16 SLI support down to a more reasonable price point. nForce 680i LT boards deliver all of the high-end gaming performance of the 680i SLI, but at a much lower price, which we can only see as a good thing.
As for the components omitted in order to hit the 680i LT's lower price point, Nvidia made most of the right calls. Removing the third PCI Express x16 slot was right, as this slot is largely un-used at this point in time. In addition, Dual GigE support and a diagnostic POST code error reported (while useful), aren't frequently used items. DDR-1200 support was tough to hit on full-fledged 680i SLI boards (partially due to DDR2-1200 memory modules still being somewhat immature), so "removing" this feature won't cause a problem for most users. As our overclocking tests show, this chipset can easily handle DDR2-1066 and higher speeds without issue, so we really don't even consider this feature missing from the LT anyway.
The one item that didn't set well with us was the active chipset cooler. Dual chipset fans are something the motherboard industry had moved away from, as noise now plays a major factor in purchasing decisions. The board is probably too loud for those seeking a quiet PC, although we will say that most gamers won't mind the additional noise due to the board's lowered price point. Perhaps third party manufacturers like Asus and Gigabyte will produce passively cooled 680i LT solutions in the future.
As a whole, we're very much impressed with the 680i LT platform, and we think Nvidia will sell them in bunches. However, the price point and feature set may cannibalize sales of both the 680i and 650i SLI chipsets in the process. Certainly Nvidia is aware of this and feels releasing the 680i LT SLI is the right direction to go. The platform simply has a great mix of features, overclockability, and an attractive price point.